The Frontal Cortex

Diet Soda

One of the perverse pleasures of spending too much time in airports is getting to people watch. I put on my “anthropologist from Mars” glasses and pass the time by staring at strangers, watching what they eat, read and how they struggle to nap in uncomfortable positions. This morning, while waiting on a very delayed plane in the Portland airport, I watched a woman perform yoga by the gate.

But if I really were an anthropologist from Mars I’d be most puzzled by something else that people in airports do: drink lots of diet soda. I write this in the San Francisco airport, where I’m sitting on a bench with five other people, all of whom are sipping some sort of beverage with artificial sweetener in it, from Diet Snapple to Pepsi One.

This is a bizarre ritual, no? We’re deliberating duping our tongue, enjoying the illusion of sweetness without the thing that the sweetness is supposed to represent: metabolic energy. What I find most ironic about these diet colas is that there’s good evidence that fake sugar actually leads to weight gain. Consider this recent paper in Behavioral Neuroscience, which found that rats fed artificial sweeteners gained more weight than rats fed actual sugar:

Animals may use sweet taste to predict the caloric contents of food. Eating sweet noncaloric substances may degrade this predictive relationship, leading to positive energy balance through increased food intake and/or diminished energy expenditure. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were given differential experience with a sweet taste that either predicted increased caloric content (glucose) or did not predict increased calories (saccharin). We found that reducing the correlation between sweet taste and the caloric content of foods using artificial sweeteners in rats resulted in increased caloric intake, increased body weight, and increased adiposity, as well as diminished caloric compensation and blunted thermic responses to sweet-tasting diets. These results suggest that consumption of products containing artificial sweeteners may lead to increased body weight and obesity by interfering with fundamental homeostatic, physiological processes.

There’s also some tentative evidence of the same effect in humans:

Splenda is not satisfying–at least according to the brain. A new study found that even when the palate cannot distinguish between the artificial sweetener and sugar, our brain knows the difference.

At the University of California, San Diego, 12 women underwent functional MRI while sipping water sweetened with either real sugar (sucrose) or Splenda (sucralose). Sweeteners, real or artificial, bind to and stimulate receptors on the taste buds, which then signal the brain via the cranial nerve. Although both sugar and Splenda initiate the same taste and pleasure pathways in the brain–and the subjects could not tell the solutions apart–the sugar activated pleasure-related brain regions more extensively than the Splenda did. In particular, “the real thing, the sugar, elicits a much greater response in the insula,” says the study’s lead author, psych ia trist Guido Frank, now at the Univer sity of Colorado at Denver. The insula, involved with taste, also plays a role in enjoyment by connecting regions in the reward system that encode the sensation of pleasantness.

The essential lesson is that the brain doesn’t like being tricked. When you give us sweetness without the caloric energy, we end up craving calories more than ever.

Comments

  1. #1 6EQUJ5
    February 11, 2009

    I quit drinking soda when my brand changed their recipe (without publicity). Months later I began to notice the sweet taste of carrots, peas, lima beans, cauliflower, broccoli, whole-grain bread, and meat.

  2. #2 Nathan
    February 11, 2009

    If the results of the Swithers/Davidson study are applicable to humans, then why do most studies in humans show that no-calorie sweeteners aid in, or have no effect on, weight loss?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299484?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlusDrugs1

  3. #3 DG
    February 11, 2009

    Just to respond to the meaningless anecdotal evidence of #1 with some of my own: I continue to drink diet soda regularly, have lost a significant amount of weight in the past year, and can still taste the sweetness of carrots and whole-grain bread. Life is funny, isn’t it?

  4. #4 a
    February 11, 2009

    (hmmm– perhaps snark as side effect of artificial sweetener consumption should be studied…?)

    Remember this from NYer article a while back– profiling sweetener research:
    “Sucralose was declared safe by the FDA in 1998, but most taste researchers I talked to won’t eat it. “I look at that structure and I have an irrational fear of it,” one of them said. “I’ve seen the safety studies, and you feed it to rats and mice forever and nothing happens. But it just scares me.”

    - from “The Search for Sweet: Building a Better Sugar Substitute.” by Burkhard Bilger 5/22/06

  5. #5 OftenWrongTed
    February 11, 2009

    Many would opt for fresh squeezed fruit-juice instead of diet soda if the cost was equal.

  6. #6 George Osner
    February 12, 2009

    hmmm… perhaps they could try THIS soda: http://bit.ly/14NHp

  7. #7 Lefty
    February 12, 2009

    So saith the skinny guy. I’ve always been curious about the addictivity [sic?] of artificial sweeteners. My own anecdotal evidence is that the diet soda drinkers I’ve known have been much harder core than the HFCS soda drinkers I’ve known. This from a guy who’s been drinking diet soda pretty much daily for at least 25 years.

  8. #8 catgirl
    February 12, 2009

    I used to drink diet soda and regular soda often, but when I was 19, I suddenly started to hate the taste of fake sugar. When Splenda came out, I tried it and didn’t like it either. I wonder why I suddenly stopped liking it after years of liking it. Since then, I’ve realized that it’s in many more things than just soda. For example, with the brand of yogurt I like, fat-free is sweetened with a combination of artificial sweeteners, but the low-fat is sweetened with sugar and corn syrup.

  9. #9 bizzyD
    February 12, 2009

    Thank god I’m not a rat! I also like diet soda for the caffeine sans sugar. Coffee’d be fine too, but generally the only drinkable coffee at SFO is Peet’s and that’s about 3 times the cost of a soda.

  10. #10 Michael
    February 12, 2009

    There have been other studies which seem to indicate it is the same for humans as well. From what I’ve seen – the expectation of consuming sweet items (fake sugar or real) will cause the body to react to the expectation and raise its insulin levels. The neurotransmitter insulin controls fat storage and suppresses using stored body fat as energy – its not surprise that rats would gain weight if they work the same way as humans.

    The real question I would like to see is a comparison of real sugar, HFCS, and artificial sweeteners which has a worse effect overall. I don’t think I can give up all sweeteners.

  11. #11 Luci
    February 12, 2009

    One of the best places to people watch and ponder behavior and choices is the supermarket checkout line. The rat study seems to be borne out in human terms when the common observation is made that those with the 12 packs of Diet whatever also have carts filled with cookies, pastries, ice cream, and prepared foods and snacks. And the girths of said shoppers verify overconsumption. If all of those products contain sugar substitutes, the ‘diminished energy expenditure’ resulting in no exercise taken could be quantified with a tape measure – an extra long tape measure.

    Thunder thighs, sagging sucralose stomach.

    On the bright side, the Portland airport setting indicates that the author-signed book copies will be shipping from Powell’s soon. Some non-caloric pleasures like good books don’t trick the brain. Happy brain.

  12. #12 Net
    February 12, 2009

    Tried diet soda once, twice.Never happened again. I dont like diet soda. It is so devoid of all the sweetness that is the essence of a sweet drink.But then, to each own. Some like it diet, some just want it regular sweet soda.
    But as per my personal experience, if I craved for sugar ,I dont think diet soda is that satisfying at all. Ended up looking for more sugar taste than what is necessary.Is it pyschological or what.Something about keep on looking for what is not there.You get a diet soda, hoping it would taste with all the sweetness of soda and then you wonder why it doesnt taste like anything what a soda should taste like.Something like that. :-)

  13. #13 Dan
    February 12, 2009

    I occasionally try to kick my caffeine habit (supplied by quarts of Diet Mountain Dew) by going cold turkey. After the headaches stop(!), I’ll fall off the wagon and go back to the “green caffeine” only to notice how incredibly sweet it tastes! So, over time, I guess I build up a sweetness tolerance?

  14. #14 Donna B.
    February 13, 2009

    Fortunately for me, I like black coffee and iced water for daily drinking. The only soda I like is cherry-limeade from Sonic, but I hardly ever go there as it’s not on my normal “route”.

    Unfortunately, I’m still fat.

    What I really miss is Grapette. The six ounce bottle, so cold there are a few ice flakes in it. If there was a place I could get one of those, I’d certainly drive out of my way.

  15. #15 OftenWrongTed
    February 13, 2009

    Donna B., You might enjoy Amazon Energy Acai Berry from Sambazon, purple can; it tastes like the sonic but less heavy taste. I love my black coffee too.

  16. #16 cd
    February 13, 2009

    I drink about 2 liters of diet pepsi a day. In college i would easily drink 6 liters or more per day. I am 5’11, 155 lbs. I don’t deny that diet soda is probably terrible for me in the long run, but i really don’t buy the correlation between drinking diet soda and weight gain. If people drink diet soda, then think “hey, im gonna go eat 3 big macs, and it’s ok because i’m drinking diet soda”, well that’s just foolish, and those people are likely not going to make smart eating choices regardless of diet soda intake. If they instead drink regular soda they may additionally have other health related consequences such as diabetes because of the tremendous amount of sugar in regular soda. Of course diet soda is not going to make one loose weight per se. But if someone looking to loose weight is given the options of drinking 2 diet sodas a day, and maybe eating a bit more food, or drinking 2 regular sodas a day, and maybe eating a bit less food, i think the best option is clear. (12oz diet soda=net 0 calories. reg soda=net 300+ 70 grams sugar). For health reasons, one would presumably rather get their calories from real food instead of sugary soda anyway. Of course one could not drink any soda whatsoever, but that’s not the point here. I have heard this argument from overweight friends, saying “I don’t drink diet soda because i hear it actually makes me gain more weight than regular soda”, and then they drink regular soda instead. Which is not very wise.

    On another note, I have no doubt in my mind that diet soda is addictive.

  17. #17 Erika
    February 13, 2009

    I’ve read _of_ several studies on yahoo health that say much the same thing. Maybe, like those of us who cannot tolerate the artificial sweeteners, some people are more or less susceptible to the effects. Although the one I remember the best was that after drinking a large regular soda, the drinkers felt full but with diet soda, they just wanted more, and had more sweets cravings. Personally, when I drink regular soda I always want more so I don’t know how true this is across the board.

    Aspartame gives me wicked headaches and tastes awful, saccharine and splenda stay unpleasantly and chemically active on my taste buds for six to eight hours after consumption. There is no way that I could have been one of those people who “couldn’t taste a difference” in the MRI study. I can tolerate the pomegranate Rock Star because it has half sugar, half spelenda but it’s still a crapshoot as to whether the lingering taste bothers me.

    But like others have pointed out, if you drink a regular soda, it’s a b’zillion calories. If you drink a diet one, there are zero. People drinking diet who can handle the acid have no reason to limit their intake – for them, it’s essentially flavored water. But for me, I can only drink the real stuff so I limit myself to 1-2 sodas a week, and this only because I’m worse then an alcoholic at a bar if you give me an empty cup and an open tap of Dr. Pepper. I almost cannot pass it up. I don’t think soda “addiction” is limited to diet pop drinkers.

    But even so, I find most soda to be too sweet. How about a soda where they just take out a quarter to a third of the sugar and don’t replace it with anything? Pretty please? Oh, and use real sugar, not HFCS which has only 80% of the sweetening power per calorie of cane sugar. I’m fat enough as it is.

  18. #18 lisa winter
    February 13, 2009

    i think you are so right. just saw marion nestle speak last night and she made the same comment. that drinking artificial sweeteners just makes your body crave more sweets and you’ll make up the calories somewhere else. besides, personally, i’m not that excited about ingesting all those chemicals if i can avoid it.

  19. #19 Morgan Ladd Harlan
    February 13, 2009

    Other studies have found similar evidence: http://www.drgourmet.com/askdrgourmet/dietsoda.shtml

  20. #20 Wayne D.
    February 14, 2009

    Although this may be the case, I can’t get in today’s caloric sodas what an old-style sucrose-bearing soda gives me. Refreshment.

    Honestly — forget the boutique sodas with cane sugar for a moment, they’re good, but you can’t do this comparison with those.

    Get some Dr. Pepper from Dublin, Texas. It’s made with cane sugar. And get some “regular” Dr. Pepper. Now uou’re comparing apples with apples here, not Coca Cola and Blue Sky Cola.

    The cane sugar soda tastes clean. It’s satisfying. It has no lingering aftertaste. The carbonation burns just right. The HFCS soda is inferior in every way, and it’s not satisfying.

    All my opinion of course, but I honestly mistrust HFCS more than I mistrust artificial sweeteners. I’d rather have an aspartame/sucralose/acesulfame-K cocktail than corn-syrup soda.

    But I do think, and I hope some Coca-Cola executive is reading this on his or her spare time, that Coca-Cola could introduce Coca-Cola Premium — old recipe Coke with just cane sugar and sell it for 2x the price.

  21. #21 CLF
    February 14, 2009

    Drinking diet soda has also been linked to osteoporosis in women. I believe there was a Tufts study done on this.

  22. #22 Thomas
    February 15, 2009

    As I diabetic, as much as I’d prefer the real thing, I am pretty much obligated to use the fake stuff. Since Splenda came along, doing so is more palatable but still not the same.
    However, I still can appreciate the sweetness of carrots and just about anything else. I can’t be sure but I don’t think my taste buds have changed. Of course, when it comes to diet cokes etc., I drink these very rarely but I do use Splenda in place of sugar for other things – on top of cereal etc.

  23. #23 diet recipes
    February 15, 2009

    Interestng topic for dieters. And we should stay away from artifical and natural foods are the best and of cource diet recipes

  24. #24 Layla Morgan Wilde
    February 15, 2009

    We must not be people watching at the same airports. I’ve observed more people drinking bottled water. Perhaps it’s because I don the “anthropologist from Venus” glasses and not Mars ;-). Btw, your book: How We Decide is included in What I’m reading This Week at my blog: The Boomer Muse, today.

  25. #25 Adam
    February 15, 2009

    Very interesting! I have always been suspicious of artificial sweeteners.

    My taste buds and brain were definitely confused today when fresh lemon tasted like super-sweet candy…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_fruit

  26. #26 maile
    February 15, 2009

    Don’t trust that a product is safe for human consumption just because it has FDA approval. One should always question the data, the manipulation/presentation, the source, and the funding.

    From personal experience, I say there is something (rather, many things) wrong with sugar free sweeteners. What is their purpose? Weight loss? Taste? Affordability? First of all, they have no nutritional value. So, no matter what the price, they are expensive. Diet soda stimulated my appetite. Diet soda also replaced my consumption of a much healthier alternative….water.

    To each his/her own. Enjoy and partake BUT beware.

  27. #27 Jason
    February 15, 2009

    I’ve been saying for years that diet soda is POISON. Have you seen the studies confirming that aspartame causes massive tumors in rats? I can just tell it in the way that people behave that they drink diet sodas. They are unfocused, lethargic, and have memory loss. This is a serious problem. There are many people trying to get these substances banned. Humans should NOT be eating/drinking this stuff. I whole heartedly believe that pregnant women drinking diet sodas, or sodas of any kind, is the leading cause of physical defects and mental problems in so many of our kids. If you graph the time these products showed up and the correlation to cancer it is astounding. Please help anyone you know drinking this cancer juice to stop immediately.

  28. #28 geciktirici
    February 16, 2009

    We must not be people watching at the same airports. I’ve observed more people drinking bottled water. Perhaps it’s because I don the “anthropologist from Venus” glasses and not Mars

  29. #29 Anonnie Muss
    February 17, 2009

    This isn’t news to me but somehow studies like this one never get as much media attention as the ones urging people to buy more of something rather than less of something. (“New miracle foods!” like goji berries and so forth). And people will go on drinking diet soda because collectively we as a nation have been very well-trained by industrial food producers to retain child-like palates geared toward sweetness all the way through adulthood and right into the grave. I don’t eat a lot of processed food myself and whenever I do I’m shocked at how sweet it is. And when I meet people who eat a lot of processed food they seem to have the palate of a very unfortunate toddler: they dump ketchup or honey mustard on everything, they order extruded chicken pressed into “nuggets” or “tenders” because they want to eat toddler-style rather than with a knife and fork, they even douse their salads with sugary processed dressings made with corn syrup. And it’s gotten to the point now that they feel it’s a political statement – consider, for example, the republican whining about “arugula-munching democrats” during the last election. They’ve not only been sold on the tastes, they’ve been sold an ideology that encourages them to see those tastes as part of their identity.

  30. #30 Lefty
    February 17, 2009

    Erika,

    I was hoping Coca-Cola C2 would be just what you describe, with just half the sugar. They missed their demographic with that one. They tried to tie it to the “Low Carb” fad a few years back, by doing what every other manufacturer who jumped on that bandwagon even as the window had already closed, by replacing half or more of the sugar with artificial sweetener. My friend, an avid regular Coca-Cola drinker was very excited until he read the ingredients. I think that had they marketed toward people like him — and of course made a palatable beverage — they would have been far more successful.

  31. #31 Brandon S. Adkins
    February 19, 2009

    The osteoporosis link mentioned above is likely due to the caffeine content of soda. Caffeine depletes calcium which has direct effects on your bones. I believe it is flawed to associate osteoporosis with diet drinks in general.

    Due to calcium being the likely culprit, it should also be stated that any substance, pill, or drink that contains caffeine would have the same affect on calcium levels and bone health.

    For me it’s always going to be diet sodas or cane sugar sodas. I try to stay away from HFCS as much as possible, especially because sodas made with cane sugar taste much better and “cleaner”. Once you drink sodas made from cane sugar, you can taste the chemical nature of HFCS drinks.

  32. #32 Laurie
    February 22, 2009

    I drink 12 – 14 cans of diet pepsi a day. I switched to diet pepsi when my mother found out she was diabetic. The first year(18 years ago) I lost a lot of weight,got down to a size 4. During the past 18 years I have lost and gained, but mostly gained. The people in my life worry about me, quitting diet pepsi seems unlikely to happen. Is there really a medical problem in my future? Or maybe I should be the ginny pig for some study.
    confused, and not willing to switch to water, what can help?
    diet pepsi lover

  33. #33 Adam
    February 25, 2009

    Just a technical question. This article states the insula has a role in taste and the connecting reward pathways; however in a previous article, Shopping, it was stated that the insula is involved with aversive feelings (the article’s example was that when learning the price tag of an item, the area of the insula became active). As the shopping article states, the nucleus accumbens is crucial for the reward pathway. Is this really as contradicting as it seems? Does the insula has a dual or comprehensive role with rewards and aversive feelings?

  34. #34 David Kerlick
    February 26, 2009

    Is it the carbonation? If you put NINE teaspoons of sugar into your iced tea, it would be as sweet as a regular Coke. Try tasting a flat Coke sometime, and see.

    As a diabetic, I usually go for coffee or tea, and maybe a little Stevia. I have also been known to take free water from a drinking fountain at an airport, but how profoundly unconsumerist to
    drink something that costs 4,000 times less than the bottled version!

    Or is it just the Freudian jollies from fondling a bottle?

  35. #35 güzel sözler
    February 28, 2009

    We must not be people watching at the same airports. I’ve observed more people drinking bottled water. Perhaps it’s because I don the “anthropologist from Venus” glasses and not Mars . Good bye

  36. #36 okey oyna
    March 1, 2009

    thanks

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  38. #38 Morgann
    May 15, 2009

    i just drank 4 liters of diet coke.

  39. #39 Tatil
    June 24, 2009

    Is it the carbonation? If you put NINE teaspoons of sugar into your iced tea, it would be as sweet as a regular Coke. Try tasting a flat Coke sometime, and see.

    As a diabetic, I usually go for coffee or tea, and maybe a little Stevia. I have also been known to take free water from a drinking fountain at an airport, but how profoundly unconsumerist to
    drink something that costs 4,000 times less than the bottled version!

  40. #40 dianareintges
    July 9, 2009

    As Judah Folkman said of cancer researc “breakthroughs”–”count the toes”.

  41. #41 Michelle
    July 14, 2009

    Related to the point about diet sodas increasing appetite, I have long heard that if you consume some “real calories” along with your diet soda, you are much better off. So personally, I try to limit myself to one a day. It is usually my treat that I drink with lunch. That way I get to enjoy the taste that I love, and my brain doesn’t get so confused since it actually does get some calories out of the deal.

  42. #42 aşk
    July 17, 2009

    Thank you now I wonder what will happen to rank page)

  43. #43 Diet coke addict
    July 20, 2009

    I drink about 1.5l of diet coke daily, water is just too tasteless and bland, if I drank 1.5l of regular coke a day I’d be obese!
    I’ll take my chances with chemical sweetners thanks.
    Surely obesety is far greater risk than a few ml of synthetic sugar substitutes each day.

  44. #44 rubin
    July 24, 2009

    because animals go by their instincts and have to use the ratio between sweetness and caloric energy to decide if they’re getting enough energy, artificial sweeteners have a negative effect on their bodies.

    humans however have a conscious awareness of what they are putting in their mouths, and don’t have to decide if something has enough energy based on how it tastes. so the fact that diet drinks make other sweet foods less satisfying may have a negative affect on someone who just eats whatever they feel like eating, in that they eat a lot more of said sweet food to get the same affect as without the diet drinks, but most people who drink diet drinks are either trying to lose weight or at least conscious about how much they eat. so overall, how satisfying a sweet food is wont affect a weight conscious person’s decision to eat low calorie, healthy food.

  45. #45 bayram turları
    August 10, 2009

    We must not be people watching at the same airports. I’ve observed more people drinking bottled water. Perhaps it’s because I don the “anthropologist from Venus” glasses and not Mars . Good bye

  46. #46 Perplexed Patti
    August 29, 2009

    I stumbled onto these comments regarding sugar/sweetners and their effects. This summer, my car has been stopping at the local convenience store every morning (I try to hold the wheel from turning in)and I have become “addicted” to very large, frosty, diet fountain sodas. I have also gained weight, been unable to stop snacking pretzels and goldfish, I am tired but cannot sleep and my memory and concentration abilities are shot. I thought this was all due to my recent(yikes) 53′rd birthday. I am encouraged by reading your comments and hopeful that if I give up this addiction and start drinking water, light juice and tea, that I can get my life back!!!

  47. #47 blah
    September 8, 2009

    DUDES, ITS JUST FUCKING DIET SODA ITS NOT A BIG DEAL if you dont like it thats ok but no one gives a shit. if giving up diet soda is really the ultimate glory that gives you your life back than obviously you had no life to begin with

  48. #48 Vnend
    September 28, 2009

    Somehow I missed this entry earlier this year.

    I have still only found one soda (Diet RC (*not* Diet Rite)) that is sweetened with just Splenda and has caffeine. I almost wish I hadn’t (it isn’t available where I live). When I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, I cut out sodas and started drinking seltzer water with a little orange juice in it; sweet, but not horribly, and very refreshing. I was first introduced to the combination visiting friends in Sardinia many years ago. I found that I really liked ‘orangiata’, and discovered that the brand I liked the most, besides being the cheapest, also was the only one that didn’t add sugar.

    I also read the New Yorker article listed early in the thread. The segment where he is taste testing the different sweeteners left out at least one that I know of; fructose. It is sweeter than glucose, and absorbed more slowly by the body. Yes, it doesn’t taste the same. But it isn’t quite as ‘bad’ for you (in excess) either.

  49. #49 Kurban bayramı turları
    October 19, 2009

    Just to respond to the meaningless anecdotal evidence of #1 with some of my own: I continue to drink diet soda regularly, have lost a significant amount of weight in the past year, and can still taste the sweetness of carrots and whole-grain bread. Life is funny, isn’t it?

  50. #50 Geo L
    October 28, 2009

    To all:

    Artificial sweeteners have been around since 1981 for dry food, and since 1983 for beverages. I believe it’s true that artificial sweeteners are related to weight gain. I also am a people watcher, and most of the people I see drinking a diet soda are overweight. Doesn’t it seem the just the opposite would be true?

    If you drink diet soda, think about the consequences. Michael J. Fox, suffering from Parkinson’s symptoms, also… drinks a lot of diet soda: Florence Griffith Joyner, drank 8 diet sodas a day, died suddenly. I could go on and on. A good friend of mine used a lot of the chemical in the pink packs. He’s lucky to be alive, after fighting Leukemia 2 years ago.

    Aspartame was banned by the FDA for 16 consecutive years before it was approved in 1981. It’s approval was even balked at by the National Soft Drink Association.

    Here’s some things you may or may not know about aspartame:

    1. Aspartame is in over 6,000 products including diet drinks, hot and cold powder drinks, yogurt, chewing gum, gelatins, puddings, AND CHILDREN’S CHEWABLE VITAMINS! DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN TAKE THEM, OVER 50 CHILDREN’S MEDICINE’S CONTAIN ASPARTAME!

    2. Aspartame is comprised of 50% phenylalanine (a neurotoxin, 40% Aspartic acid, (another neurotoxin) and 10% methanol. (this doesn’t sound good)

    3. Methanol is wood alcohol. It further breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde!

    4. The entire state of Illinois has banned aspartame from all of it’s schools.

    5. There’s more you should know about aspartame. It’s not good.

    6. I believe aspartame is the most dangerous chemicals on the face of the earth.

    Pls, before you drink another diet soda, check out what I’ve written. go to: http://www.dorway.com; or http://www.aspartame.com; or http://www.sweetpoison.com ( read about 3yo Katrina, who had already taken her chewable vitamin, when her father gave her a sip of his diet soda. She went into convulsions. They called 911, she spent 3 weeks in a hospital in a coma before coming out of it. I cost her parents $750,000)

  51. #51 Amy
    November 3, 2009

    Lots of hysteria in the comments. Randomized, double-blind controlled studies anyone?

  52. #52 ucuz tatil
    November 28, 2009

    The osteoporosis link mentioned above is likely due to the caffeine content of soda. Caffeine depletes calcium which has direct effects on your bones. I believe it is flawed to associate osteoporosis with diet drinks in general.

    Due to calcium being the likely culprit, it should also be stated that any substance, pill, or drink that contains caffeine would have the same affect on calcium levels and bone health.

    For me it’s always going to be diet sodas or cane sugar sodas. I try to stay away from HFCS as much as possible, especially because sodas made with cane sugar taste much better and “cleaner”. Once you drink sodas made from cane sugar, you can taste the chemical nature of HFCS drinks.

  53. #53 beany bean
    November 30, 2009

    Sodas have phosphate which attracts calcium from bones. What about the fact that aspartame turns to formaldahyde in the brain…mmmm.minute on the tongue/ forever in your brain….

  54. #54 Roy Woods
    December 8, 2009

    You still can’t beat the taste of a real Coke made with real sugar, not the high fructose corn syrup they use today. They still use real sugar in Mexico and you can buy “the real thing” in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores today.

  55. #55 Tom Hargrave
    December 8, 2009

    There is no scientific evidence that Aspertame or any other artificial sweetener is harmful in the amounts we consume.

  56. #56 Brady Crabb
    January 26, 2010

    I was diagnosed with Diabetes several years ago. Shortly after that I was visiting my Mom and she convinced me to try Splenda. I found it to be a lot more pleasant than sodium saccharin, and since I am allergic to aspartame, I was very happy to discover this sweetner.

    In my personal opinion, aspartame, which I personally refer to as NutraPoison, should be removed from the market. As stated by others, there was quite a bit of controversial evidence against this sweetner prior to FDA approval. Since one-third of the nation is allergic to it, and it can kill one percent of the population, don’t you think that maybe the FDA approved a BAD drug? If you feel foggy headed, confused, have memory problems, etc., and are drinking an aspartame-sweetened product, STOP. Wait a few days to see if your mind clears. If it does, you shouldn’t take the stuff in.

    Taking in anything that is sweet or carbohydrate-laden makes you crave more carbs, and if you eat more carbohydrates, it will be stored as fat. Study up on South Beach Diet on this one – I think Dr. Agatston is right, or at least it seems to be true for me.

    We should all take out the excesses in our diets – too much of anything is a bad thing. Artificial sweeteners, because they are so sweet, would cause us to desire foods that are excessively sweet. Used in moderation, artificial sweeteners are less likely to cause as many side effects.

    Great article, I really enjoyed it and found it and the comment thread great food for thought.

  57. #57 Claire
    February 25, 2010

    Aspartame is marketed as a “diet aid”. The reality is that Aspartame causes the brain to stop producing serotonin, which results in feeling as though you haven`t had enough to eat even when you are full.
    75% of ALL recorded complaints received by the FDA were concerning Aspartame. Those symptoms complained about included headache, nausea, vertigo, insomnia, loss of control of limbs, blurred vision, blindness, memory loss, slurred speech, depression, hyperactivity, gastronomical disorders, seizures, skin lesions, rashes, anxiety attacks, muscle and joint pain, numbness, mood changes, menstrual cramps out of cycle, hearing loss or ringing in the ears, and heart palpitations.

    Aspartame has three components: phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%), and methanol, aka wood alcohol, (10%). But, their breakdowns present an even greater cause for concern. Phenylalanine decomposes into diketopiperazine (DKP), a known carcinogen when exposed to warm temperatures or prolonged storage. At 84 degrees F, the wood alcohol converts to formaldehyde. The body`s temperature is 98.6 degrees F. Talk about “Night of the Living Dead”

  58. #58 Robinson
    March 10, 2010

    Can I just chip in here? It’s a little late I know. A lot of these studies usually take a population as a whole and don’t look for sub-groups within them who may show a stronger association than the group average. I wouldn’t dismiss anecdotal evidence so quickly, even though I know people can be irrational and fool themselves. We are all different. Genes may play a part too.

    My own experience is that drinking diet coke (cherry diet coke) regularly, by some pathway or other, almost always leads me to gain weight and stopping drinking it to lose weight. This might not be the case for others, with suitably different genetics.

    More research is needed.

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  60. #60 Austin
    June 29, 2010

    I switched from regular soda to diet soda and lost 40 lbs over the course of about 9 months. Obviously, in my case, subsituting artificial sweetner for the hundreds of grams of sugar in regular soda made a difference in the amount of calories and carbs I consume daily. I still eat candy, ice cream, and other forms of sugar filled sweets, but its easier to drink 5 to 10 sodas in one day, as opposed to 5 or 10 pieces of cake, or 5 to 10 bowls of ice cream and so forth. Also, 12 women does not make a diverse or large enough test group to draw absolute conclusions.

  61. #61 Frank
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    I suspect anything created by Monsanto has a heavy does of Evil in it. I think what is also worth mentioning is the general poor quality of drinking water and how difficult and expensive it can be to find in public. I can generally flush a toilet for free but drink 12 oz. of water can cost me a small fortune.

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  65. #65 Clenbuterol
    August 28, 2010

    Drinking a reasonable amount of diet soda a day, such as a can or two, isn’t likely to hurt you. The artificial sweeteners and other chemicals currently used in diet soda are safe for most people, and there’s no credible evidence that these ingredients cause cancer. Some types of diet soda are even fortified with vitamins and minerals. But diet soda isn’t a health drink or a silver bullet for weight loss. Although switching from regular soda to diet soda may save you calories, some studies suggest that drinking more than one soda a day — regular or diet — increases your risk of obesity and related health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

  66. #66 Sean
    September 24, 2010

    Aspartame Studies
    In the late sixties, the only tests done on primates, that’s if you ignore the current test being conducted on us, Dr. Harold Waisman fed milk laced with aspartame to seven infant monkeys. After 300 days one monkey died of a heart attack, and five had grand mal seizures! G.D Searle, aspartame’s owner at the time, did not submit these results to the FDA prior to getting approval.
    Links below
    http://www.mercola.com/article/aspartame/fda.htm
    http://www.naturalnews.com/023175_aspartame_the_FDA_NutraSweet.html
    http://www.rense.com/general33/legal.htm

    A recent study conducted in the College of Science, King Saud University in Saudi Arabia found “chromosome aberrations” in the bone marrow cells of mice given aspartame, concluding that “aspartame has a genotoxic risk.” Genotoxic chemicals are those which are capable of causing damage to DNA! The duration of this test was only 24 hours.

    Link to study below:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2905693/

    I also found details of a couple of studies done on rats and rabbits in Rumania. Unless you have a medical background I would not try and read the text unless you have access to a medical dictionary. Take a look at the six pictures: The ones on the left are the control group, the ones on the right were fed aspartame. The cell damage to the hypothalamus and pituitary are deeply disturbing.

    The report concludes: “ The degenerative aspects of brain and pituitary observed in Aspartame-treated rabbits; suggests that it is reasonable to assume that the same infant-to-adult relationship would be true for the Aspartame consumption in humans to children in the prepubertal period of development.”

    I would not encourage adult use either!

    Link for above study in PDF format :
    http://journals.usamvcj.ro/veterinary/article/view/1249/1223

    (I had to download file to read with a PDF reader)

    For those of you who would prefer watching a video check out the following “Aspartame – It puts the DIE in Diet Sode + 6000 other products” :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVrTKxTpZWY

    If you get an error when trying to load the video above just go to You tube and search for “watch?v=cVrTKxTpZWY” without the quotations.

    Pass this on folks!

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  73. #73 Loretta Avril
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    I am currently doing a report on the side effects and just diet sodas in general and have found some pretty amazing and frightening things.

    I have the occasional regular soda but never drink diet due to the fact that it can pickle your brain just as salt water pickles cucumbers.

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  75. #75 Rachel
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    I stopped drinking regular soda a number of years ago and switched to diet soda – it probably helped me shed a lot of pounds, although I also became more active (although these days, it seems like the ‘experts’ are saying that diet has more to do with weight loss than exercising…oh how the times change!).

    These days I’m a fairly healthy person – hardly anything that I eat comes pre-packaged or has a nutrition label associated with it (I love to cook whole foods!). A lot of people commented in the past that I was one of the healthiest eaters they knew, except that I drank diet soda. It seemed to them this was a serious conundrum.

    I think that a lot of the studies on aspartame are a lot of hype – tumors in rats? Yeah, but look at the amount of aspartame being fed to them! In any case, I hate Monsanto, I think they’re a horrible company that destroys the lives of good people. On top of that, I figure why put these things into my body without *really* knowing – plus, soda is getting awfully expensive!

    But here is my conundrum – when I go off soda, I seemingly gain weight. I don’t feel as though my diet changes, and my ‘replacement’ for soda is just water (I also don’t feel more clear-headed, have better memory, etc., as all these other people have claimed). So it should be 0 calorie for 0 calorie. I went off soda for 3 mo. a couple of years ago, and I just felt it ‘wasn’t worth it,’ so I started up again. I’ve now been off it again for about 2 weeks only, but have the weight gain… So it’s a tough choice for me – which is worse, the weight gain or drinking the so-called ‘poison’, which, so far, has no real hard evidence against it in regards to the amounts humans take in daily? Or do I need to be off it longer than 3 mo. to notice some kind of difference and stop gaining weight?

  76. #76 Joanne
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    Jonah Lehrer is right. Diet soda is poison.

    Daily diet soda tied to higher risk for stroke, heart attack
    61 percent higher risk of vascular events for those who drank diet soda each day, study finds

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41479869/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/

    Take charge of your life and don’t be a guinea pig for the medical/military industrial complex

    http://www.naturalnews.com/030687_life_expectancy_disease.html#ixzz17ovRJ7wQ

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    This was really interesting. I for one drink almost only diet coke (zero) and have never reflected over the phenomena – that I actually do crave sugar even more.

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  108. #108 Celine
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    The ONLY thing putting weight on me, because of the amount I was up to drinking was regular Pepsi. I have made the switch to diet sodas and that is the only change I have made. I have lost 10 pounds in less than 3 months.

    I agree the article Posted by: Luci

    Look into the shopping carts of overweight people. They believe that they can have anything they want because they drink the diet soda. I watched a man purchase a diet pepsi, a large bag of chips and a box of cookies….what a mix! Was he going to eat it all at the same time?? Go into any fast food restaurant and look around. 2 Big Macs, supersize fries and an apple turnover…..of course a diet drink.

    So, I and my husband, whom as also given up the HFCS in the regular sods drinks have found that this is what was putting the weight on!

    Do all the studies you want, say whatever you want. Drop the HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) drinks from your diet, eat and make healthy food chooses and see if it doesn’t work for you too!

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  149. #149 AspartameDrinker
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    I’ve been drinking Diet Pepsi since I was 17 (I’m now 32). Some things I’ve noticed: I can be lethargic and crave sugary sweets, I am unfocused and don’t get a lot done when I’ve drank it, I get weird muscle spasms once in awhile and my vision gets hazy sometimes, and there are times I forget things where I would normally have a great memory and remember them. That said, I am not fat and have great cardiovascular health because I work out, and I don’t eat sweets very often. So the statement about being fat because you drink diet sodas is not always true. It depends on the person. And I would be a fool to say that any chemical made by man and put into food or beverages is NOT harmful. I believe aspartame causes cancer and alzheimers. I’m trying to quit, especially since I’m trying to maintain my healthy lifestyle. Good luck to you all. I encourage everyone to get off the sauce!

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